« AnteriorContinuar »
most complete precipitation and removal of the sludge, and to such purification of the effluent as may be effected by the advance of chemical knowledge or by filtration, and in this last matter I should like to see a considerable experiment made upon low lands in Essex.
But the condition of the Thames may be, and will surely be vastly improved. Long after the Council commenced operations there were many hours in every week when the whole volume of sewage passed to the river without precipitation and generally without screening of any kind. That evil will be in part continued until the completion of the Crossness works and the alterations at Barking. Probably in twelve months none of the
. dry weather flow will pass to the river except as a screened and partially clarified effluent. But that will be only the beginning of improvement. The long continued discharge into the Thames has caused deposits which only time and labour will remove. But these deposits will pass away and will never in the same manner be renewed.
The main cause, however, of the foulness of the river in the Metropolitan area, and of floodings in low-lying districts which have caused such cruel suffering, is the insufficient capacity of the main sewers, which need a large supplement after thirty years' growth of London. If these floodings had occurred in Belgravia, or anywhere in the dwellings of the “classes," instead of in those of some of the humblest and the most unprovided of the people, I know that my last year's tenure of office as chairman of the Main Drainage Committee-painfully conscious as it was of these evils, for which the Council were powerless to present a remedy-would have been terribly distinguished. The Committee have not lost a moment in adopting the recommendations of the engineers as to remedial measures. On the north side, the incapacity of the Middle Level, or Oxford Street, sewer adds to the choking of the Low Level, or Embankment, sewer, which in parts must be little better than a cesspool, ready on the slightest rainfall to pour scarcely diluted sewage into the river. To remedy this great evil it is proposed to construct a new main sewer commencing at Paddington and passing by Euston and King's Cross to Old
Ford, whence there will be additional outfalis to Abbey Mills, and so on to Barking, a large increase of pumping power being made at Abbey Mills. The next evil to be dealt with on the north side is the present exclusion of such populous places as Tottenham, West Ham, Stratford, and the lower part of the Lea Valley from the drainage area. The sanction of Parliament is needed to bring these places into the general system, but the excessive pollution of the Lea, which contributes greatly to the foulness of the Thames, will not be stopped until this is accomplished. This will involve doubling of the outfall sewer between Abbey Mills and Barking, with increase of the effluent discharged at Barking to 150,000,000 gallons per day. To remedy very similar evils on the south side, it is proposed to construct a new main sewer, with beginnings at Balham, Streatham, and Deptford, with additional outfalls from Deptford to Crossness. These works would provide for an average dry weather flow of sewage of 280,000,000 gallons per day, from a population of 7,000,000, and in view of this addition of more than 100,000,000 gallons, the engineers suggest that it might be expedient to convey that quantity by a new outfall sewer from Barking and Crossness, in the latter case passing under the Thames, to Shellhaven, for discharge after treatment in the more ample waters of Sea Reach. This could, they say, be done by constructing a sewer roft. gin. in diameter for a length of 18} miles. They estimate the cost of the requisite sewers on the north and south sides of the Thames at £2,220,000, and the cost of this auxiliary outfall to Sea Reach, with pumping engines at Rainham, reservoirs for precipitation, and outfall works for shipping sludge, at £1,600,000. If Crossness is to be relieved by contributing half the 100,000,000 gallons so taken on to Sea Reach, the cost would be £40,000 more.
It is clearly the most immediate obligation of the Council to construct the additional main sewers with the utmost despatch, and to expedite the completion and the fullest possible utility of the outfall works at Barking and Crossness. When these works are carried out the floodings will cease, and the Thames will be as different from its present state as that condition is from the pollution of thirty years ago.
The river will still be liable in perhaps VOL. IV.–No. 23.
twenty-four days of great rainfall every year to receive a volume of diluted sewage, which in the case of a rainfall of two inches in ar. hour-about the heaviest fall on record—would be a flood such as no sewers of practicable dimensions could contain, and including so small a proportion of sewage as to be virtually innoxious.
In giving much attention to this subject I have occasionally indulged in visions of a perfectly pure river with an embankment beset with happy anglers and never showing any but perfectly translucent ripples in repugnant protest upon the bows of grimy barges. It is not difficult to master the facts of the case, and the public can judge fairly how far it is possible to approach this ideal in that which we all desire to make a model city. For myself, I have abandoned those ideas, and am convinced that, in regard to the pollution of the river, all evidences of population cannot be entirely suppressed. I believe that working upon the valuable lines of the engineers' report we shall, by the end of 1894, the term of the second Council and the knell of the six years' aldermen-of whom I am one by the quite undeserved favour of my elected colleagues-have carried the system of London drainage to a tolerable condition. But in that great and most useful work the Council will be constantly surrounded by all the fast rising lights on invention, and by the progress of chemical science, considerations which forbid the assertion that this plan or that will be the ultimate form of the dealing by local authority with matters of such vital importance to the health and welfare of the population.
RELIGION AND PERSONAL INSIGHT,
T often happens in controversy, as well as in other things, that
lookers-on see most of the game; and this is specially true of much controversy about religion. The men who make it their particular business to argue are apt to become so occupied with certain details of the question that they lose all grasp, in the end, of its essential character; and in this condition people who are not professional arguers may be better critics of them than those who are. If religion is important to us at all it is important to us not as philosophers but as human beings; and the man or woman who will describe man's common experience has a right to raise a voice and let the philosophers hear it.
To persons, then, of this class, or at all events to a number of them, nothing can seem more strange than the evident good faith in which young thinkers eager for the fray, and intellectual veterans famous in other fields, are now attempting to prove one or other of these two things : either that, apart from Revelation, we can by seeking find out God in nature; or that, apart from Revelation, there is in nature no God to be found, because some of the greatest scientific minds of to-day cannot find Him either by the strongest microscope or the most profound natural philosophy. And these attempts, to the class of persons I speak of, seem more than strange; they seem mischievous-not, however, on those grounds of reverence or spiritual expediency which make some people deprecate all discussion of fundamentals, and which in many cases may be summed up in the saying that it is well to let sleeping dogs lie; but because the whole argument, as conducted on both sides, often seems to be as wide of the question at issue as it would be to discuss the conformation of the mountains in the moon in order to find a cause for agricultural distress.
Let us put the matter in this way. We all of us admit that such a thing as beauty exists; we admit, too, that flowers are beautiful. Now we may divide and sub-divide the stalk of a flower, and discover that the thing called beauty forms none of its component parts. Hence, if we follow the methods of our modern disputants, we may argue that beauty, though we admit it to be instinctively knowable, is nothing and does not exist. It is precisely in this way that men pull to pieces nature and natural law, and, finding no God there, say He does not exist. And yet the existence of God, like the existence of beauty, is discoverable by a different faculty and by widely different means.
Indirectly, and by the evidence and the teaching of others, God may be found by all men. But to find Him directly, so as to reveal or bear witness of Him to others, is given to the few only. God, in fact, is to be found in this sense, just as beauty and music are to be found, only by the temperament that responds to the secrct voices not heard by all men. The musical and the artistic temperament, we are told by school-inspectors and others, are hardly to be found amongst more than three children in each hundred. The temperament that gives rise to natural religion is probably just as rare. This is the temperament that was described by Wordsworth, when he said :
The stars of midnight shall be dear
This temperament—let us call it what we will-imaginative, creative or inspired. It is enough here to describe it as the temperament which, wherever it may be born, however it may be educated, will yet have the finer car to discern the still small voice, as in widely different circumstances did Socrates and Elijah. its own intuition or instinct it will perceive God in nature, and in the significance of every science. It is something which reason does not give and reason cannot take away; and in everything the man endowed with it will be on the side of the angels.